Sunny Covers Now Shipping Newcastle-Made Inverter Shade-Box

Sunny Covers - inverter shade cover

Good ideas can come from little things.

When solar installer Perry Borg wanted to protect customers’ inverter warranties with extra sun protection, he couldn’t really find what he wanted, so he decided to design and manufacture purpose-built protectors.

He’s now launched the product under the brand Sunny Covers. It’s a very straightforward sub-$300 solar inverter cover designed to provide sun protection where a house lacks an under-cover spot for the inverter, and doesn’t have enough eaves to provide its own shade.

Turn Down The Sun On Your Inverter: Sunny Covers

Sunny Covers before and after

Speaking to SolarQuotes ahead of launch, Borg said customers aren’t always aware inverter manufacturers state their products must be installed away from direct sunlight.  

“So – normally the inverter is installed in the garage or under the awning. And it’s best to be installed somewhere near the meter box. The majority of customers will have a place near the meter box with awning.”

However, he said, that’s not always possible: 

“Some houses don’t have enough awning. In other cases there might be a gas fitting near the meter box, or clotheslines, or other things”.

Borg added this should be a consideration not just for customers, but also for installers. If their installation voids the product warranty, the installer will bear the cost of inverter replacement.

Explaining the decision to create a protection product for sale, Borg told SolarQuotes the most common solution to the need to shade an inverter is to buy a cheap plastic awning from Bunnings, which he considers sub-optimal. He also found the few products designed as solar inverter covers to be using materials he regarded as inferior.

“I thought I could design something better, better quality product, and something that would look good as well.”

The Sunny Covers product was originally a single-piece design*, but Borg told SolarQuotes he revised it to several pieces bolted together, so it could be flat-packed for transport. The covers use marine-grade aluminium, and he has contracted to have the product fabricated in Newcastle.

The 3mm aluminium helps with heat dispersal, and the shade cover is sized to comply with the inverter’s requirement for a gap between the cover and inverter – for correct airflow and to provide room for conduit and switches. 

*Note: The original version of this article referred only to the single-piece construction and not the later revision.

About Richard Chirgwin

Richard Chirgwin is a journalist with more than 30 years' experience covering a wide range of technology topics, including electronics, telecommunications, computing and science.

Comments

  1. Nice.

    Does the front panel open to enable viewing the inverter’s display and access to the control panel?

  2. I knew about this 11 years ago and insisted they install my inverter in my garage. It never let me down.

    • Larry Gray says

      The solar installers said the inverter should always be placed on the outside wall near the meter box, never in the garage. Safer should the inverter catch fire. They also installed a cover over it to reduce heat build up from the western sun. Panels installed in late 2019.

      • My sister and I had our solar systems installed in 2009. The German built inverters are inside our houses. The panel isolation switch beside the inverter not up on the roof. My sisters inverter stopped working a few years after it was installed and was replaced under warranty and has had no further problems other than the display being left in German by the installer!
        I have always wondered why inverters are outside in the weather and why it is necessary to climb up onto the roof and reach under the panels to get to the switch. We chose our installer because they allowed us mere females to dictate the location of the panels and inverter.
        Our neighbours system was installed by a guy who made the decisions for them and they have the panels mounted flush on a steep south slopping roof and the inverter on an exposed west facing brick wall.

  3. Greg O'Grady says

    I don’t understand why there’s a top plate that only really serves to impede convection airflow.

    I’m curious as to why the top and side panels weren’t simply made a bit higher so as to provide the shading.

  4. Clive Edmead says

    Brilliant idea, would probably be even more effective at minimising heat radiation to inverter if lined with a non-combustible insulating materia as all metal reaches untouchable temperatures in summer.

  5. Trevor Jolly says

    ….er… Since DC power is used to run railway/tram systems ~ as well as space vehicles (shuttle/space-station) what’s the point of having an inverter at all ~ other than to add to money-grubbing industry interests? These days there’re endless appliances available that will run off DC, and given the RISING(S) cost of grid-connection, etc. a strong case can be made for getting off-grid altogether. (or depending on particular circumstances) running separate circuits.

    • Don’t know what your angle is but way off base……

      For starters, most DC appliances can not run with HV DC (in most cases, with most rooftop PV systems, DC voltages run anywhere up to 600Vdc). Inverters are required to change that DC voltage to AC voltage at grid voltage for which the majority of appliances are made for.

      Not all railway/tram systems run at DC (some do run at AC). And not all DC rail systems are the same, (Sydney metro trains run on 1500Vdc). And where does this DC voltage come from? AC grid systems.

      Yes, sure you can run 12 or 24Vdc appliances directly from the solar panels but this will result in less than optimised performance and insufficient power output. You would need to employ a MPPT/solar regulator to get maximum power output to a set voltage. Without this, the dc voltage would fluctuate quite a bit which is not good for DC appliances.

      The purpose of the inverter is to take a fluctuating DC voltage (most inverters have a starting dc voltage) and output a steady state AC voltage/frequency to match the grid for use in the house/export.

      I hear this constant moaning and whinging about people who threaten about going off grid….. for most people it will be impractical and does not stack up financially. For me, it is way cheaper to stay connected to the grid (I still get credit per year). I would rather pay $365 per year to stay connected to the grid. I treat the grid as my backup system to my solar system/battery system. (Allows me to export excess solar electricity in Spring/Summer and import in late Autumn/Winter) without having to buy a generator or fuel. Whole house is electric, so no other fuel costs (apart from car). And if I lose my solar/battery system, I still have a grid connection to run appliances. Once you go off grid, you lose that grid backup system and it could take days/weeks to get reconnected to the grid.

      Issues with going off grid…..
      1. What does one do with their excess solar generation in summer without a grid connection? You would need a very large battery system to soak it all up. And in winter, there will be insufficient solar to meet house demand. Cost of battery to soak up excess solar in summer is ridiculous. 10 Powerwalls would cost about $150,000 and even then it can only hold about 135kWh (which is about 3 days of solar production for me). $150,000 would pay for years of grid connection and beyond my lifetime
      2. Financially, #1 is doable but you would to convert all heating appliances (hot water system, stove, oven, heaters) to gas to minimise electricity usage. But this is very expensive to convert/change the appliances. Again, waste of money and you still don’t know what gas prices will do.
      3. Get a generator to meet demand, but the rough guide is about 60c/kWh for diesel/petrol generation (this is way more than grid electricity of 25c/kWh). Then you have to manage it and buy the fuel.
      4. For Tesla Powerwalls, you can not go off grid if there is a grid connection available to the property, temperature is above 0C and you have sufficient solar system capacity to go off grid. Then, you need to buy a compatible/certified generator to work with the Powerwall.

      Going off grid requires a bit of planning and ensuring it’s correctly setup. This might be OK for weekenders or properties which are a long way from the grid.

      So, unless, electricity goes up to 60c+ per kWh and daily supply fees jump up to about $3/day, then the cheapest option is stay on grid for maximum benefits for now. And they keep saying that wholesale prices of electricity is dropping…

      • “Going off the grid” really means allowing your home system to operate independently of the grid when it is producing enough to run the house or when the grid is off line during the day. Of course the industry trundles out the safety issues conveniently..It is the last real control they can exercise and will no doubt continue to lobby on this basis. Off grid operation without batteries and with isolation safeguards is quite possible . Rooftop solar is now the second largest source of generated power in Australia and the Power Companies are getting it for next to nothing. Go figure

        • Well said! One comment:- While running what you can while the sun shines* is a sound principle, I wouldn’t forego a battery-bank and adjust accordingly. Personally, I find it convenient to run a couple of small, cheap, (caravan-style) inverters off the batteries when travelling. eg. my AC/DC car-fridge won’t run on DC unless it’s via a battery: running it via the 300W inverter allows me to use an on/off timer and also run the lap-top more efficiently than off it’s built-in battery. (recently bought a small laptop which runs directly off the battery, and have a tiny TV on the dashboard which also does ~ consuming 6 watts! There are endless options these days, including a microwave I have my eye on! *Running the house-fridge-freezer full-bore all day with the thermostat switched off keeps it cold all night. (though needing a pick-axe to extract a beer can be a nuisance!)

  6. Did someone say nearly $300 for some bent tin.

  7. I intentially had my inverter installed under a laundry concrete floor. No sunlight and very small temperature variations, even in summer.
    I don’t get it that installers did not get this years ago. What can I say…..

  8. Kevin Aldcroft says

    I am not sure why solar manufactures do not include some sort of shade panel to go over the inverter or at least over the digital display. We had an inverter for many years the inverter was under an awning. However, the awning did not stop all of the sunlight hitting the inverter and digital display, the digital panel became unreadable after a few years.

  9. When I couldn’t buy any shade panel suitable, I built my own for my new inverter about 3 months ago. Cost about $100 for materials and about took about 7 hours to measure, plan, buy materials, fabricate, paint and install on the wall (say time cost is $30 per hour = $210) for an overall cost of $310. Admittedly mine has an opening to view the digital display.

    I think that $300 retail for a manufactured panel is quite acceptable.

    • Kevin Aldcroft says

      I agree the $300 panel should have a viewer panel and or opening so the digital display can be checked and accessed without having to remove the structure from the wall. I am looking at making some form of a cover or awning, I have two inverters 3.5 and a 6.6 KW systems and I need to protect the display screens from the sun. While the inverters are under an eve they are still subjected to the sun for most of the day being mounted on a wall facing North-West.

  10. Rob Farago says

    thanks for raising awareness about protecting inverters from the sun.

    disclosure – we’ve been making solar inverter covers for a few years now out of polycarbonate and aluminium, in various sizes and colours. you can see them here https://www.simplycovers.com.au/

  11. There’s a place called http://www.covermyinverter.com.au that sells good inverter covers. They’re custom designed and made to fit for the type of inverter so you can access the LCD screen. They’re also approved for use by the inverter manufacturers so voiding warranty isn’t an issue.

    Full disclosure I’m mates with the guy who runs the website haha, but I still think they’re a pretty good product.

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